Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Generator fumes choke students to death in Nigeria

At least seven university students have died after apparently inhaling fumes from a generator in a music studio in Nigeria's oil-rich Bayelsa state.

The young men are said to have worked late into Monday night and fell asleep in the locked studio with the generator still running.

They are suspected to have suffocated from carbon monoxide emissions but police say investigations are ongoing.

Many businesses and households in Nigeria rely on diesel- or petrol-powered generators because of inadequate power supply.

Six bodies were discovered on Tuesday morning, while one of them, who was found unconscious, was rushed to a nearby hospital but later died, local media reported.

Residents of the area raised the alarm when they peeped through the window of the studio and saw the bodies sprawled on the floor.

Police arrived and cordoned off the area after moving out the bodies in the Amarata area of Yenagoa - the Bayelsa state capital.

“Investigations are being carried out but based on what we have seen, carbon monoxide poisoning due to generator fumes is a possible cause,” police spokesperson Musa Mohammed told the BBC.

The victims were undergraduates from the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in Amassoma, who were involved in the music recording business to support their education.

This is not the first time generator fumes have killed people in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.

In 2009, at least 13 family members, including four children, died after inhaling noxious fumes from their power generator while they slept in a remote village in south-eastern Imo state.

Nigerians rely on backup generators to cover about 40% of their electricity needs, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Grid power supplies are often erratic in Nigeria, despite its role as a major oil and gas producer.

President Bola Tinubu recently ordered all government agencies to purchase only vehicles and generators powered by natural gas as part of the country's efforts to transition to cleaner energy and cut high fuel costs.

By Mansur Abubakar & Wycliffe Muia, BBC


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